What's it all about?

This blog is about photography and photoediting. Its purpose is to provide hints and tips and links to interesting and useful resources for digital photographers, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. It is aimed at people who use digital SLR cameras and who process their images using the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

The author of this blog is Glenn Springer and you can read more about him at his web portal at faczen.com. Information on workshops, and links to everything is at photography.to. Glenn's original blog, which is an ongoing journal of his photographic meanderings goes back to 2006 and contains many additional hints and tips, as well as representative images that he has made. Gallery quality prints are available through his Smugmug gallery site. It is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of quality images, as well as an ongoing general journal of photos going back several years.

Photography workshops are scheduled every few weeks starting in the Spring. For an overview of what's happening, please visit the photography.to website.

The most recent blog post is below. Scroll down to the bottom to see the list of previous postings or search for any particular topic.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Superb Lenses

This week I'm babysitting my friend's lens. We're heading up to Lake Superior for the Gales of November workshop, I'm driving up with a couple of other photographers and Ron is flying up, so I offered to take his extra stuff in the car. He cautiously gave me his "baby", his Nikon 600mm f/4 lens and told me I could 'play' with it if I wanted to.

What he didn't give me was the Wimberley mount and tripod... so I was a bit limited in what I could do. That lens is heavy! And of course, with the 600mm super telephoto focal length, handholding it is a challenge. I've held a lot of rifles that weigh about the same or more (the lens is 10 lbs by itself, without the body attached) but with rifles you have a shoulder stock to help steady it to counteract the muzzle-heaviness. I have read that some people (Moose Peterson comes to mind) regularly handhold this lens. I guess I have to start lifting weights again if I were going to.

So the old "1/focal length = slowest shutter speed" rule goes by the board. I cranked the ISO up enough so I was shooting at 1/1000 sec or faster, which met with some success. Most of the time, I rested the lens on top of a soft suitcase.

Anyway, this is a superb piece of optics. It's not meant for shooting landscapes, it's for birds and for long distance reach-out-and-touch shots of dangerous game. So I looked for a dangerous animal to shoot and sure enough, I found one.

This wild beast had to be 1/4 mile away. This image has been post-processed, I did everything I could to sharpen and enhance it. Then I cropped it slightly just for positioning, so you're not really looking at what I saw exactly through the lens.

This next image hasn't been touched, though. Well not really: I cloned out the head of a calf on the right edge and ran Nik Sharpener (pre-sharpen RAW) but that's all. It's not even cropped. This is exactly what it looked like through the lens. I didn't even level the horizon.

My title says "TWO superb lenses". The other one is my old standby, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR. It was like holding a helium balloon in my hands after the big guy! No weight at all! Anyway, I took a couple of comparison shots of the same scene. Here's one:

Shot at 200mm, 1/500 second at f/8, ISO 400. Nik Sharpener RAW pre-sharpening, clone out a couple of ugly houses in the background and straighten the horizon.

The same tree, shot with the 600mm, 1/1600 second at f/4 handheld, ISO 400. This one has not been sharpened: I ran presharpen on it but didn't see any discernable difference, so I'm showing the original here.

So the 600 shows outstanding sharpness and contrast. You know how we say, "you can't take a bad shot with the 70-200"? That's partly because of the quality and partly because of the beautiful isolation you get with the shallow depth of field and great bokeh. I want to say the same thing about the 600: look how the tree jumps out with the shallow DOF!

Here's a direct comparison:

What you have to understand is that the shot on the left is only 250 px wide after cropping. Incredible sharpness given the huge enlargement. The contrast on the 600mm shot is excellent. And look how it jumps out with the small DOF! As indicated, they're both shot at f/8.

So two wonderful lenses. It was fun comparing them.